Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 7)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
    and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
    you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
    spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
    though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
    for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
    the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

This section of the Psalm teaches the wicked will meet with their due end and the righteous will live in the peace and refuge of the Lord.

Keeping the Lord’s Ways

David’s ongoing belief was that he would continue to see God working good out in his lifetime as we see from this earlier psalm:

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! [Ps. 27:13-14 ESV]

We love these verses in Psalm 27 because we so need God’s strength and courage for daily life! We need to remember He will bring His good out of all that we face. Continue reading

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 6)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

27 Turn away from evil and do good;
    so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
    but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
    and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
    and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous
    and seeks to put him to death.
33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power
    or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

This section of the Psalm teaches that God holds eternity and true justice in His hands.

Pursue Godly Ways

Verses 27 through 29 hold together as one lengthy discourse on the results of following (or in the case of the wicked not following) God’s ways.

We begin with an immediate exhortation that speaks into our daily walk with God. Turn from the wrong path, from your sins, from (ethical) evil, and do good (the Hebrew is towb, that is, moral good). It’s not just turning away from wrong behavior, but also replacing it with good behavior, turning toward what God sees as good.

Our good should be to the glory of God. It is all too easy to fall into that error of thinking we are doing something for God and in reality we are doing it for ourselves — to look good in front of others, to seem more holy, to earn merit with God. Examine yourself, it is a good exhortation.

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 5)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
    for the Lord upholds his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
    and his children become a blessing.

This section of the Psalm teaches that the Lord guides and protects those who follow in His ways.

Feet Firmly Planted

When David speaks of God establishing a man’s steps, we need to be clear that the implication is the steps of a good man–goodness in the sense that the man follows after God. Not just any man. Obviously God is utterly omnipotent and sovereign over all humanity, not just the righteous, but He is not directing their steps in the same way He directs those of believers. Proverbs 16:9 affirms this: The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. From the largest to the smallest of details, God is over and above it all: near enough to number your tears, far enough to have the whole world in view.

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 4)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

16 Better is the little that the righteous has
    than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
    and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
    in the days of famine they have abundance.

20 But the wicked will perish;
    the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
    they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
    but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
    but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

This section of the Psalm teaches that whether you have little or great abundance, as a believer you are secure now and for the future in the Lord.

The Righteous Are Secure

16 Better is the little that the righteous has
    than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.

Do you believe that the Lord is smiling upon you because you have enough zeroes in your checking account? Or, on the contrary, do you feel like He has abandoned you because you have so little money you don’t know where the next rent check will come from?

It’s tempting to look around at the so-called “rich people” in our world today and wish you had what they had, to think it would be so much easier if you had “a million dollars.” That phrase “a million dollars” is our way of saying we wish we didn’t have to worry about money. Continue reading

Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 3)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
    and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he sees that his day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
    to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
    and their bows shall be broken.

This section of the Psalm teaches that the best attempts of the wicked to attack the righteous will have eternal consequences.

Objects of Attacks

The righteous, poor, needy, and those who walk uprightly (a second reference to the righteous) are all targets of the wicked. It may be that their very lifestyle, in the case of those who are righteous and upright, is a goad to the godless man. He wants to see him fall and fail.

As for the poor and needy, perhaps they make easy targets, as they have fewer (if any) resources they can use to fight back. It is understandable how the wicked can work diligently to keep those without material wealth in a subjugated position.

Mental Attacks

The wicked tries by the power of the mind to bring down the righteous with plots. This could be as simple as telling lies in the workplace that get someone fired. Or by pretending to be a friend and then betraying the person so they are humiliated.

The other picture here — the gnashing of teeth — is one of rage toward the person who walks after God’s ways. This could mean attacking them for their beliefs, being angry at how their life speaks of God. Often our very lifestyle, set apart from the world, is enough to perplex and even frustrate those who live with the god of self on the throne.

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 2)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
    though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
    and delight themselves in abundant peace.

This section of the Psalm instructs us on right responses for the evil we see.

Be Still

In thinking about what it really means to be still, I closed my eyes and thought how being still or resting in God is like taking a deep breath, letting it out, and giving whatever we are anxious about to Him. It’s like being in your dad’s arms; you’re safe. It’s peaceful. There’s a strong feeling of being protected. Provided for.

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 1)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Quick overview of the psalm

David wrote this psalm as an old man looking back over his life [v. 25] and reflecting on his experiences with life and with the Lord. In his lifetime, David saw a lot of wickedness succeed and a lot of righteous people suffering. That led him to encourage the righteous as to how they should respond.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Key things to pick up from this part of the Psalm

Don’t fret about evil: Here and twice in the next section of verses, we’re told, “fret not,” or “do not fret, as the NAS puts it. Fret is a weird word to most of us and we probably don’t use it a whole lot. It has the sense, from the dictionary, of being constantly or visibly worried or anxious. Spend a day in the world working or simply observing people and you will see evil and wrong behavior. For a feeling, reasoning believer, this can be a great cause of distress. After all, we want the true justice — not the world’s method, but God’s. Continue reading